cover image Raisins and Almonds: A Yiddish Lullaby

Raisins and Almonds: A Yiddish Lullaby

Susan Tarcov, illus. by Sonia Sánchez. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5415-2161-2

Redheaded Bella hears night noises and heads to her mother, who explains that the source is a little white goat who runs a store under Bella’s bed. The child is intrigued: “Will he have a red bicycle?” she asks. “You never know,” Mama says. Returning to her room, Bella enters an enchanted landscape, rendered by Sánchez (Here I Am) in sweeping, pencil-like textures and velvety colors ranging from earthy to radiant. Bella meets three fellow shoppers—a mouse needing furniture and a mezuzah, a rabbit seeking gardening equipment and a kippah, and a wolf who craves pickled herring, bagels and lox, and pastrami—as text by Tarcov (Maya Prays for Rain) becomes a series of incantatory dialogues, with each animal asking about the goat’s inventory and Bella responding, as her mother did, with “You never know.” Arriving at the goat’s store, the quartet discovers that he sells only raisins and almonds, and the story abruptly stops—readers may even wonder whether the final pages have gone missing. The connection to the titular lullaby is tenuous (even with an explanatory author’s note), but the authors do succeed in conveying what dreaming feels like: marvelously strange and surreally vivid. Ages 3–8. [em](Apr.) [/em]